OnePlus just a few hours ago launched their new OnePlus X mid-range smartphone with a new invite system in place. Those who want to get their hands on the affordable, yet premium device, should hurry up and register on the OnePlus website to receive an invite. The OnePlus X is a mid-range smartphone launched as an attempt from the Chinese start-up to popularize their design in the affordable smartphone industry. The OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 are both budget-friendly flagship smartphones, but the OnePlus X is the first mid-range smartphone that the company launched. Specs aside, the OnePlus X release coincides with the launch of a new design aesthetic for the company that goes after the premium build quality craze that has taken over consumers. HTC launched their brand new HTC One A9 in a similar fashion, but the Taiwanese company’s idea of premium is very different from OnePlus’ idea.
While the HTC One A9 comes off as a rip-off of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S, the OnePlus X has a couple of design elements that provide it with uniqueness, to a certain degree. Unfortunately, neither of these mid-rangers bring anything innovative to the table when it comes to design, but they both stand as milestones for each company’s design language history. Truth be told, HTC was the pioneer of antennae lines, but going back to that design and reflecting so much of Apple’s design aesthetic in a phone that’s nowhere near as premium as the iPhone or many Android phones, for that matter, is something HTC should have thought about twice.
HTC fans were already disappointed with the company’s last few devices in the One family, accusing HTC of ignoring international fans with the One M9+ and giving them a sub-par experience instead with the One M9. The situation changes with the HTC One A9, although not necessarily for the better. In a crowded market filled with affordable smartphones, a $500 mid-ranger that mimics Apple but is not Apple might not have been a good choice. Nonetheless, HTC did some good things with the One A9. The OnePlus X, however, is an entirely different story.
While the One A9 came out of nowhere with a couple of people talking about it before launch, the OnePlus X was widely anticipated. Even though mid-rangers usually don’t excite the Android community that much, the OnePlus X release date was one of the most popular topics in forums and discussion panels. That’s because OnePlus has made a reputation for itself with its affordable, yet high-quality flagship smartphones so everyone was expecting a phone with a massive bang for the buck in the OnePlus X. Fortunately, that’s exactly what the company did with this mid-ranger.
Priced at $250, the OnePlus X takes on a wide array of phones in its price range that have specs much inferior to the ones this phone has to boast with. It goes up against smartphones like the Moto G 3rd generation, Samsung Galaxy A line-up, LG’s mid-range line-up and HTC’s Desire line-up as well as its One line-up of devices. That’s a lot of competition the phone needs to face, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. If we were to consider all the entry-level and mid-range smartphones that cost between $200 and $300, we would be here all week, figuring out bang for the buck for each.
The OnePlus X is a unique launch that tries to take the design elements that were loved by the Android community this year and blending them together in an easy-to-use form factor. With a shrunken size compared to other smartphones from the company, the OnePlus X is the OnePlus Compact of flagship killers. With glass paneling all over, the handset is reminiscent of Sony’s Xperia Z3 line-up, but is not as awesome as the Xperia Z5 family. The glass paneling is a fingerprint magnet, and while that’s definitely not a deal-breaker, some might have preferred a matte glass or frosted glass similar to the panel of the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact.
Nonetheless, the glossy panel looks seamless and offers the OnePlus X design the element of industrial design that seems to be so popular with smartphone manufacturers nowadays. With a heavy body, the OnePlus X looks and feels premium. Helped by the metal design and by the option of a ceramic back panel, those interested in this phone should definitely weigh their options and choose the design that is fit for their use patterns. The ceramic back panel might be a bit more fragile, although OnePlus did assure fans that the OnePlus X construction is durable and will not break or scratch that easily. Although it sports a similar AMOLED panel to the Motorola Droid Turbo 2, it doesn’t feature shatterproof technology, so this one is not made for concrete.
The chamfered edges and bezels aspect of the OnePlus X truly make it look like a premium smartphone that can be comparable to Apple’s new iPhones. When it comes to the sides and ports of the device, OnePlus added a couple of features for maneuverability. The volume rocker and power button have a polished texture made out of metal and the handset comes with a tray for two SIM cards, one of which doubles as a microSD card slot, which means the OnePlus X is privy for storage expansion.
Although a bit heavy compared to flagship devices of this year at 160 grams, it’s on par with the Motorola Moto G 3rd gen which weighs 155 grams. With a 5-inch FHD 1080*1920 AMOLED display, the OnePlus X aims to offer a stunning viewing experience in a small footprint that will be comfortable for most people. Although phablets seem to be a bit more popular than regular smartphones, OnePlus’ mid-ranger cuts costs with a smaller screen but still manages to make the handset appealing with the great resolution that it boasts with. Gorilla Glass 3 is there to protect the front of the device, and the back of the glass variant, but it’s not there on the ceramic version of the handset. The ceramic version is not available yet and it will also be a limited edition device with a higher price tag of $400. The ceramic OnePlus X will be exclusive to European customers, though, so there’s little hope of U.S. fans to get it.
The OnePlus X is more appealing from a design aspect than the specs aspect, but that doesn’t mean the company went with cheap options. There’s a Snapdragon 801 CPU on board, backed by 3 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage, Android 5.1 Lollipop with OxygenOS on top and a 2525 mAh battery providing the juice. A 13 MP camera with autofocus and flash is on the rear of the device, while the front comes with an 8 MP shooter. The camera setup hasn’t been thoroughly tested yet, but OnePlus says the performance and results it will provide users with will be on par with the OnePlus One, which had almost the same camera setup that made for rather impressive photography experiences.
Essentially, the OnePlus X is the experimental version of the OnePlus One. With an Onyx name tag next to the OnePlus X name, the handset is a premium version of the original flagship killer with an improved design, better front camera, smaller screen and battery and the same processing power, for a cheaper price. The OnePlus X is going to be available only through invites in the first month, but starting December, people will be able to buy it without invites through open flash sales that will be held weekly and daily by the company. Although there are rumors about the OnePlus X being just as limited as the ceramic variant, sources tell us there are plenty of OnePlus X devices waiting to get in your hands.
Moving on to the HTC One A9, the first thing that we notice about its design is that it’s pretty good. Although it’s a copy-cat phone and that trait is definitely not appreciated by Android fans who feel mocked, the build quality, aesthetics and feel in the hand are on par with Apple’s hardware, and that’s saying a lot. Even though HTC’s One A9 is not the hit the company wanted it to be, we have to admit that the design is truly comfortable and easy to use, doing away with the harsh lines of the One M9 and replacing them with curved 2.5d glass and chamfered edges. The only thing about its aesthetics that is a tragedy is the speakers – they’re exactly like the ones on Apple devices. It’s not that they don’t look good, it’s that they’re not BoomSound speakers. Mistake, HTC, big mistake. I’m sure all of the people interested in the One A9 would have preferred to have BoomSound speakers. Tss.
The fingerprint sensor on the HTC One A9 is a significant upgrade, because it works much better than the fingerprint sensor on the One M9 + and it’s on par with Apple’s Touch ID. The OnePlus X doesn’t have biometric security built-in, which is a bummer, since that would have been a great feature to add to such an affordable and premium smartphone. However, adding a fingerprint sensor would have brought the cost of the phone up, so it was probably a trade-off in the face of the design elements. Nonetheless, I’m sure that OnePlus could have made a few tweaks and included a fingerprint sensor in the OnePlus X.Since it’s an experimental device, as the company points out, there might be another variant sporting the missing sensor in the future.
The HTC One A9 looks and feels great in the hand, but it is a bit larger than the OnePlus X. It’s a bit lighter though, weighing about 138 grams. The metal unibody of the device feels like the one on the fan-favorite HTC One M8, adding the smooth antennae lines and rounded edges for extra effect and comfort. With a 5-inch FHD AMOLED display, viewing experience will be the same on the OnePlus X as on the One A9. The One A9 has a more advanced version of protection in the form of Gorilla Glass 4, so if you’re a clumsy person, you might want to consider this difference when deciding.
The camera of the HTC One A9 is comprised of a 13 MP camera on the rear with dual-tone flash and optical image stabilization and a 4 MP camera up front. That setup is a bit better than the OnePlus X camera, which lacks optical image stabilization and has only a single-tone flash. The One A9 camera performance and results will most likely be more impressive than those of the OnePlus X, given that HTC resolved the post-processing issues that made even the One M9 camera seem sub-par on occasion.
Under the hood, the One A9 lags a bit behind the OnePlus X with its Snapdragon 617 chipset, 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage on the base model. The 32 GB HTC One A9 gets 3 GB RAM, but runs on the same processor and is backed by the same 2150 mAh battery unit. Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Sense UI is the advantage, seeing as the OnePlus X only gets Android 5.1.1 Lollipop for the time being. The Snapdragon 617 is an entirely new chipset from the Snapdragon family, but it’s a mid-range SoC that is below the Snapdragon 801 when it comes to performance. The extra storage space and the newer OS are bonuses for the One A9, but are they enough?
The HTC One A9 comes with fast charging, which is a feature missing from the OnePlus X, unfortunately. Fast charging is an important feature nowadays with everyone on the run and we had hoped OnePlus would include it in the Onyx. The A9 holds this atop OnePlus’ mid-ranger, but since neither of these devices have been thoroughly tested to find out what kind of autonomy they can provide users with, I’m going to withhold judgment in this department.
The One A9 price is $400 this month, but it will soon rise to $500 unlocked for the 16 GB variant. The OnePlus X price is $250 unlocked and it won’t change anytime soon. The invite system is a problem, but seeing as the company will be holding open sales next month, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. As a conclusion, the OnePlus X, for half the price of the HTC One A9 sounds like a better option for users who want performance and style at the same time. The One A9 is a good fit for those who want more storage, a slightly better camera, fast charging and premium design. The price difference between the two phones is warranted, but the HTC One A9 does seem a little overpriced for what it has to offer. We will be back with a more in-depth comparison once we get a chance to test autonomy, performance and camera quality on the OnePlus X and HTC One A9.